Buying a home can be an overwhelming experience. It’s exciting, it’s anxiety-inducing, it’s scary and it’s happy. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to do. But when it comes to buying a house, there are at least six things you should never do.
1. Don’t Forget to Get Pre-approved
Before you start searching for homes and making plans, get pre-approved. This will give you an idea of what you can actually afford so you can shop for homes more wisely. This will also make the home buying process go more smoothly as you move along and take the steps to get into that new home.
2. Don’t Make Big Changes to Your Credit
Now is not the time to dispute items on your credit report, pay off credit cards, or reduce your debt. It's very tempting to do so after your credit score gets checked during the homebuying process, but you don't want to suddenly change your credit score during the process because this will act as a red flag to mortgage companies and financial institutions. You also shouldn't take on more debt, such as getting a new credit card or taking out a new line of credit.
3. Don’t Get a New Car
Hold off on leasing or purchasing a new car if you're also trying to buy a new home. This represents a change in your debt-to-income ratio, which can make mortgage companies wary.
Wait until all the papers are signed and the deal is complete before you upgrade that vehicle. Unless you’re in dire need of a new car, don’t make any big changes to your finances at this time. At least, not until the home buying process is complete.
4. Don’t Change Jobs
Once you get approved and the process of buying a home has begun, any changes that shake up your income are no good. They're going to reflect poorly on you and may even disrupt the loan process.
If you can help it, don't switch jobs or go through any sort of employment change. If change is in the wind where you work, maybe wait for things to settle before you purchase a home.
5. Don’t Skip the Home Inspection
Insist on a home inspection. Do not waive this no matter what. You don't want to find out down the road that there's a major issue with the house that's going to cost you big bucks. Get a thorough inspection and make sure the roof is on the checklist of items that are assessed.
Some inspectors don’t cover specific types of damage, such as corrosion caused by termites. Make sure you know everything that’s on your inspection list, and pay for a second inspector if the first one skipped things you want to have checked. The more you know about your home, the better.
6. Don’t Forget about Loan Programs
Take advantage of loan programs if you qualify for any. First-time homebuyer programs, FHA loan programs, VA programs... there's a long list of options out there for people who want to purchase a home.
Use all of the available opportunities and apply for everything—every little bit helps. Some of these programs can make it much easier for people to buy a home, and that's the goal.